OK, it is a little odd to ask a virtual stranger to take off his shirt, after meeting him for 5 minutes, but this was no ordinary guy. This was the legendary Ron “Tattoo 66 Man” Jones, and he is sporting some 99 tattoos, 98 of which are dedicated to the Mother Road. This I had to see.
We had exchanged a few emails and he graciously agreed to meeting me today at his friend, Laurel Kane’s Route 66 Packards, There were about 7 or 8 Japanese bikers pulling in ahead of me. Little did they realize the sights they were about to see.
Ron was visiting a Tulsa classic car show back in the late 1990s, when he fell head-over-heels in love with Route 66. The was walking around and noticed a lot of Route 66 memorabilia , including a 66 shield with a highway running through it.
Next thing you know, that shield was inked on his calf and this proud 62 year old Vietnam vet to decide to start dedicating some serious skin to the most popular icons along 66. Ten years later, he was named the 2009 “Person of the Year” by the Route 66 Alliance. Just this year he was immortalized on the label of Jones Soda.
Look closely and you will find muffler men, bridges, neon signs, diners and gift shops, with towns noted, in all ink glory. There’s the logo for the infamous biker bar in Devil’s Elbow, MO just where you would expect it, on his elbow! And the large VW van on his right side immortalizes Bob Waldmire, artist, hippie, inspiration for the movie “Cars” and whose father was the inventor of the Corn Dog in Springfield, IL. (and that one was the most painful, taking a grueling 3 days to complete.) You’ll find 3 tattoos to honor the Home of Ugly Pies – Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, TX.
OK – one, non-66 tatt snuck in the mix – Eskimo Joe’s, a Stillwater watering hole (bringing the total count up to 99 as of today). And what will be number 100? Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe in Victorsville, CA, a 1940s cafe that serves up good old-fashioned home cooking and was also featured in the Uma Thurmon classic, “Kill Bill.”